Essay talk:What is the point of debating topics on which nobody is likely to change his mind?

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

how many people do you know who changed their opinions about abortion?

At least two (1 & 2).

Usually, the only change you see is that a person who got one or more abortions in their youth grew older, to the point that they were no longer likely to need to get another abortion, and then decided "I may as well support making this option unavailable to others, now that I won't be negatively affected by such restrictions."

This doesn't sound very usual. Do you know of any examples where this is the case? I know that it's fairly common for a pro-lifer to rationalise her own abortion & go on being anti-abortion afterwards (examples), but I think it's unlikely that somebody who is pro-abortion changes their mind after an abortion unless they have a particularly bad experience. Where there are changes of mind, it's usually in the other direction: an anti-abortionist becoming pro-abortion (see the last couple of examples in the above link).

The point is that debate on some subjects just isn't very productive at shifting the numbers in support of various stances, and all we can do is vote on those topics periodically and let the majority (whether of the electorate or their representatives, or of Supreme Court justices) decide the matter.

If the numbers don't shift, why vote periodically? If the numbers do shift but debate doesn't cause it, what does?

However, it would be naive to think that the arguments raised are actually going to sway the other side. Those are strictly for the purpose of strengthening the resolve of those who already agree, and maybe weakening the opponent's resolve just a tad when they are forced to admit that certain arguments can't be refuted.

What about people in the middle who haven't made up their minds, or whose convictions about these issues aren't particularly strong? What about people who've adopted their views for the wrong reasons (e.g. family or peer pressure) & who might be open to reconsidering them when they understand the opposing view better? ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 12:20, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

Over the course of my life I've probably changed my opinion in respect of over 80% of my political and religions beliefs. Sometimes I've been persuaded by argument and other times through reflection. With any luck, I'll change a few more opinions before I die. One minor opinion I've changed is that, as a youngster, I wouldn't have considered the question which forms this essay to be sexist - but now I do.
I've also changed my position on abortion.
So keep arguing for what you think is right you may persuade somebody. This also has the positive effect of requiring you to think about defending/refining your own positions - and you may come to the fortunate conclusion that you are the one who is wrong.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 15:48, 8 December 2013 (UTC)